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 Facts

Arthritis

 Most of the following material was provided by the Arthritis Foundation (Greater Southwest Chapter) which supports Arizona, New Mexico, and El Paso, Texas  

The American Juvenile Arthritis Organization (AJAO) is a national support group.

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Nationwide, more than 300,000 children & 7.3 million young adults are challenged with arthritis, rheumatic diseases and related conditions.  The disease can start as early as infancy and can last a lifetime.

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Prevalence of childhood rheumatic diseases including juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and dermatomyositis (2.2 per 1,000 children) is nearly double the prevalence of cerebral palsy (1.2 per 1,000) and juvenile diabetes (1 per 1,000).

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Medically, the onset of juvenile arthritis is different from the adult form, and in some cases it is far more severe.  The children and families affected by the disease often feel isolated and helpless in an environment that only sees arthritis as a condition of the elderly.

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Children develop almost any of the 100 forms of arthritis that are more common in adults, but when the disease occurs before the age of 16, it is classified as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA).

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The most common form is juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), which affects an estimated 71,000 American children and  nearly 4,000 children in Arizona!

       There were at least  4 children with JRA in the Sierra Verde Elementary School during the years 2002-2005!!!

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Childhood arthritis does not always progress into adulthood, although some forms cause damage to the joints and other organs - primarily the eyes - which may be permanent.

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In addition to the chronic pain and other medical effects on children with arthritis, there can be substantial emotional and financial drain on the entire family as a result for caring for a chronically ill child.

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The American Juvenile Arthritis Organization is a special council of the National Arthritis Foundation and is devoted to the concerns of children with arthritis and their families. 

Signs & Symptoms

The definition of arthritis is "inflammation of a joint".  Inflammation causes swelling, redness, pain and loss of motion.  Juvenile arthritis refers to arthritis or an arthritis-related condition that occurs before the age of 15  or 16.

The disease can affect one or more joints and/or the child's internal organs.  Major symptoms include joint pain, joint stiffness following sleep or inactivity that usually presents the next morning, swelling in the joints, favoring a limb, weakness in muscles or other soft tissues, fatigue.

  1. When few joints (4 or less) are affected it is called Pauciarticular arthritis.  This form has the highest risk for developing chronic eye inflammation, uveitis.

  2. When many joints (5 or more) are affected it is called Polyarticular arthritis.  Possible symptoms may include low-grade fever, a positive blood test for rheumatoid factor (RF), rheumatoid nodules (bumps under the skin), and anemia.

  3. The least common and most difficult form affects the entire body and is called Systemic arthritis.   This form usually has symptoms of high spiking fevers (103 degrees or higher) that may last for weeks or even months.  A rash of pale red spots that appear on the child's chest, thighs, and sometimes other parts of the body, often accompanies the fever and may come and go for many days in a row.  Joint inflammation usually accompanies the fever but may begin weeks or months later.  Other possible symptoms may include inflammation of the heart or lungs, anemia, and enlarged lymph nodes, liver or spleen.

If your child displays  signs of juvenile arthritis a pediatrician or rheumatologist should see him/her immediately.  Early diagnosis and treatment are important in preventing significant physical disability.

Just a few of the medications used to treat JRA: (check with your doctor for other possible medications)

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Steroids (prednisone),

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Nonsteroidal Anti -Inflammatory Agents NSAIDS  (ibuprofen/motrin, naprosyn, etc.) NOTE:  Vioxx has recently been removed from the list as mandated by the FDA

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Antimetabolite (methotrexate)

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TNF Inhibitor (enbrel)

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IL 1 (Kineret)

Some of these medications may cause gastrointestinal sensitivity, sensitivity to sunlight, increased risk of infection due to decreased immunity, bleeding/bruising,  anemia,  visual changes.   Be sure to check with your physician for further details.

Common adjunctive therapy with steroids, NSAIDS, & methotrexate may include :

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H2 Blocker (zantac)

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Vitamin (forms of folic acid such as leucovorin)

You may also need to consider:

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Frequent eye examinations   

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Routine blood work

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Drug interactions (certain antibiotics such as penicillins, in combination with methotrexate, may  alter absorption and/or excretion)

...Be sure to ask your physician for further details...

Inquire about a 504 plan at your school to assist with any  physical limitations...(extra set of text books, PE modifications, assistive writing equipment etc.)

For more resources....

 

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     last updated  05/23/2013                                 Back Next